In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 photo released by the Syrian Presidency, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to The Associated Press at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Presidency via AP, File)
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The entire territory of Syria must be "liberated," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said in remarks televized Saturday, dismissing demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad's departure as "thoughtless".The Russian statement came as intense clashes were reported in northern Syria between Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters with Kurdish-led forces. The Turkish military intervened in the Syrian war in August this year under orders from Ankara to clear the border area of ISIS fighters and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces linked to Turkey's own outlawed Kurdish insurgency. A U.N. official told The Associated Press that Syrian opposition fighters were blocking the evacuations because the Syrian government and Russia were not holding up their end of the deal and were impeding deliveries of medical and humanitarian supplies into Aleppo.Asked if the deployment of a Russian aircraft carrier into the eastern Mediterranean was intended as a warning for the U.S. against striking Assad's forces, Peskov said Russia already has sufficient military assets in Syria.Earlier this month, the Russian military warned the U.S. against striking the Syrian army, stressing that Russian air defense weapons in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack.In northern Syria, Syrian rebels backed by Turkish tanks advanced under intense bombardment toward a major northern town held by Kurdish-led rebel forces.
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